Colgate Personal Essay

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When the cool metal blade of the razor touched my scalp, I realized I had died. I watched with veiled eyes as my mother cut the last, straggling clumps of hair. The girl I glimpsed in the mirror afterwards was an apparition. If I puckered my lips and blew, she would easily have dissolved into nothingness. I shut my eyes, instead, and tried to recall a former life. Yellow hues expanding into a fiery orb; the sun beating down on my back as I knelt beside my grandmother to bury food wastes underneath the soil. Darkness, sharp and sudden, turned the day into a night in the bedroom I shared with my younger brother. I was writing furiously in my journal by the aid of a bright candle. My brother tossed underneath a thin fleece blanket, reiterating sulkily that my work could wait till morning. In another vision, we wriggled through the gap of our home's rusty iron gate and fled down the dirt road our mother warned us not to explore.

I had been inquisitive, happy, perhaps too opinionated for my own good. Who would I become now? Certainly not a young woman captivated by the facets of womanhood. My mother had cut my hair at age twelve, as was the Nigerian custom, to suffocate my budding 'adolescent' interests and rebellion. I was to be a...

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